Reality check for Aide's boys

Reality check for Aide's boys
Irfan Fandi (no 17) scoring Singapore's lone goal. Friendly match between Singapore Under-23 and Japan U-22, Jalan Besar Stadium, Feb 14, 2015.

How thankful Aide Iskandar must be that his Singapore Under-23 side will compete in the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in June, and not the Asian Games.

If it was the latter, he would be having sleepless nights for the next four months, based on the 8-1 whipping his team received from the Japan Under-22s at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.

In his opening statement at the post-match press conference, the 39-year-old coach was quick to put things into perspective.

"It was a painful result for me, but the boys will learn a lot from this game," he said.

"They would surely have learnt just how big the gap is between South-east Asian and Asian football.

"And (last night), we played against the best team in Asia."

On the evidence of the match, Aide was probably right about the opponents being Asia's No. 1.

Prepping for the qualifiers to the 2016 Rio Olympics, beginning next January, the Japanese would have been a match for any top European country.

They packed loads of pace; their technique was sublime, and the anticipation of every pass, clearance or ricochet, was a step ahead of the Singapore players.

When the Samurai Blue made it 2-0 after 22 minutes, courtesy of a Shoya Nakajima-double, the Singapore heads began to drop.

And the 3,458 fans sensed a rout on the cards.

By half-time, it was 5-0 to the visitors.

Japan, who comprised mainly players from the J-League's top tier, played the friendly match with much hunger and never stopped foraging forward for goals.

They were motivated by criticisms received after their disappointing Asian Games outing last September, when they were knocked out of the quarter-finals by the hosts and eventual winners South Korea.

Japan's coach Makoto Teguramori explained: "One of our biggest challenges recently has been scoring, and people were asking if we were good enough in attack.

"The players were motivated by this, and this result showed that we could overcome that challenge, to an extent."

The Young Lions fell victims to the backlash, but there were some positives among the many negatives from the mauling.

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